Thinking more about Pastor Babij’s sermon on Sunday, I am struck by the connection between 2 Corinthians 5:1-20 and Ecclesiastes 9:10. In Ecclesiastes, Solomon exhorts those who fear God to make the most of their lives while they can, including by working hard. Though Solomon’s admonition applies to all kinds of labor, the NT clarifies that the work with which Christians should be chiefly concerned is the work of making disciples, i.e. being a faithful ambassador of Jesus Christ (Mt 28:18-20). Indeed, because life is uncertain yet death is certain, we should stop waiting around when it comes to proclaiming the gospel and building up Christ’s church.
The Bible is clear that salvation is wholly of God (e.g. Jonah 2:9; Eph 2:8-10; John 6:37; Rom 9:14-18); Christians should not be unduly anxious about gospel ministry but rest in God’s sovereignty (Ps 127:1-2; Mk 4:26-28; Phil 4:4-7). Nevertheless, there is a clear sense of urgent responsibility in the NT when it comes to proclaiming the gospel and building up new believers. Jesus modelled this kind of faith-filled urgency himself (John 9:4-5; Luke 9:51), as did Paul and the other apostles (Rom 15:22-25; 1 Cor 9:16; 2 Cor 5:9; 2 Pet 1:12-15). Believers, too, are directly exhorted to use their limited days and wealth wisely for the sake of the gospel (Lk 12:33-34; 16:9; Gal 6:10; Eph 5:15-17; Col 4:5-6). Furthermore, Christians are warned against unnecessary and soul-destroying distractions (Mt 18:8-9; Lk 8:14; 2 Tim 2:4; Heb 12:1), admonished to be found faithful amid the prospect of Christ’s sudden return (Mt 24:42-51; 25:1-30; Lk 12:35-40), and promised eternal reward for all faithful labor (Mt 6:19-21; 1 Cor 3:5-14; 2 Cor 5:10; Rev 22:12).
As with much other good God has provided for us in this life, it is easy for us to tell ourselves that we’ll get to God’s good “ministry of reconciliation” later (2 Cor 5:18), but the truth is we do not know how much “later” we have or that others have (Eccl 8:7; Lk 12:13-20; James 4:13-17). God’s salvation plan will not be thwarted in the slightest by our negligence, but we will miss out on the joy of pleasing our master, seeing others saved and built up, and using our lives well for Christ’s sake if we do not get to work (cf. Est 4:14). By his word, church, and Spirit, God has equipped us for the work (Eph 4:11-13; Col 2:10; 2 Tim 3:16-17), and God has gifted all his people with unique and important roles to play in the work (Rom 12:3-8; 1 Cor 3:5-9; Eph 4:7, 16). Since God’s provision is so great and the time is so short, let us work well for the Lord together while we can.
2 Corinthians 5:14-15 (NASB95), For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.
Questions to Consider:
1. Would you say that you are gladly and faithfully making the most of your days for Christ? If not, why not?
2. What sinful or unhelpful distractions do you need to remove so that you can wholly participate in Christ’s work?
3. Specifically, how can you reach out to others with the gospel or serve in your local church right now?